Communist China has long been seeking to increase its influence over the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa, whether through economic, industrial, diplomatic, or militaristic means, as part of its gambit for geopolitical dominance. Part of this overall mission has been the establishment of formal ties with various African nations, most of them impoverished and home to petty dictators, such as the beleaguered nation of Zambia, where concerns have been raised that China is engaged in widespread human rights abuses against Zambian copper mine workers, according to a report released last week from Human Rights Watch.
In a 122-page report, " 'You'll Be Fired If You Refuse': Labor Abuses in Zambia's Chinese State-owned Copper Mines," the international rights watchdog said that despite improvements in recent years, safety and labor conditions at Chinese-owned mines are worse than at other foreign-owned mines, and Chinese mine managers often violate government regulations in their treatment of Zambian workers. These violations include poor health and safety conditions, regular 12-hour and even 18-hour shifts involving arduous labor, and anti-union activities, all in violation of Zambia’s national laws or international labor standards. The four Chinese-run copper mining companies in Zambia are subsidiaries of China Non-Ferrous Metals Mining Corporation, a state-owned enterprise under the authority of China’s highest executive body. Copper mining is the lifeblood of the Zambian economy, contributing nearly 75 percent of the country’s exports and two-thirds of the central government revenue.
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Photo: The large Nkana open copper mine, Kitwe, Zambia.